Saturday, June 8, 2013

Jordan's web of media control

The not-so-subtle art of keeping journalists in line

By Brian Whitaker

".......There are three principal mechanisms for restricting press freedom in Jordan. One is the anachronistic Press and Publications Law of 1998 which was heavily criticised even before parliament approved it. Another is the Jordanian Press Association (JPA), a body established under a separate law, which regulates the activities of journalists. Finally, there is an atmosphere of intimidation which results in extensive self-censorship.

Besides bringing websites under the aegis of the Press and Publications Law and its licensing system, the authorities are also trying to tie websites into the Jordanian Press Association by requiring websites to appoint an editor-in-chief who is a member of the JPA.

This aspect has not been much discussed, but it's worth a closer look.
Ostensibly, the purpose of the JPA is to maintain professional standards by ensuring that journalists are properly trained and adhere to ethical principles. Others view it as a tool for keeping journalists in line politically.....

The JPA's code of ethics (in Arabic) contains some odd ideas about the duty of journalists – they are supposed to affirm national unity, support the judiciary, refrain from insulting the authorities, show commitment to the religious and moral values of society and not agitate about crimes and scandals – but compulsory membership is the biggest problem......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Exclusive: Wounded rebels of Syria's Qusayr treated in Lebanon

Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data

Revealed: The NSA's powerful tool for cataloguing data – including figures on US collection

Boundless Informant: mission outlined in four slides
Read the NSA's frequently asked questions document

boundless heatmap View larger picture
The color scheme ranges from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance). Note the '2007' date in the image relates to the document from which the interactive map derives its top secret classification, not to the map itself.

"The National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from, raising questions about its repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communications.
The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.

The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message.
The Boundless Informant documents show the agency collecting almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013. One document says it is designed to give NSA officials answers to questions like, "What type of coverage do we have on country X" in "near real-time by asking the SIGINT [signals intelligence] infrastructure."

An NSA factsheet about the program, acquired by the Guardian, says: "The tool allows users to select a country on a map and view the metadata volume and select details about the collections against that country."
Under the heading "Sample use cases", the factsheet also states the tool shows information including: "How many records (and what type) are collected against a particular country."
A snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA "global heat map" seen by the Guardian, shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97bn pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide.
boundless heatmap 
The heat map reveals how much data is being collected from around the world. Note the '2007' date in the image relates to the document from which the interactive map derives its top secret classification, not to the map itself.
Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered, with more than 14bn reports in that period, followed by 13.5bn from Pakistan. Jordan, one of America's closest Arab allies, came third with 12.7bn, Egypt fourth with 7.6bn and India fifth with 6.3bn......."

Is the Middle East heading for a full-blown religious war?

Are recent events in Syria the beginning of a wider conflict between Shias and Sunnis, or merely another stage in the regional political changes begun by the Arab spring?

The Observer,

"Nine days ago the influential Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi denounced the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement – whose fighters helped Bashar al-Assad's regime retake the Syrian city of Qusair last week – as the "party of Satan".
Speaking in Doha not long before Qusair's fall, Qaradawi did not stop there: the cleric, whose speeches and sermons are heard by millions, went a dangerous step further, calling on Sunni Muslims with military training to support the Syrian uprising against Assad.
It was a sermon that not only marked a sharp shift in the sectarian tensions in the Middle East between Sunni and Shia but an escalation in Qaradawi's own rhetoric. When I heard him preach on Syria at Cairo's crowded al-Azhar mosque last autumn, he was sharp in his condemnation of the Assad regime, but stopped short of endorsing a jihad.
In Doha, however, Qaradawi's remarks embraced a more dangerous sectarian notion. "The leader of the party of the Satan comes to fight the Sunnis … now we know what the Iranians want … they want continued massacres to kill Sunnis," Qaradawi said. "How could 100 million Shias defeat 1.7 billion [Sunnis]? Only because [Sunni] Muslims are weak."
Qaradawi's comments – endorsed last week by Saudi Arabia's grand mufti, Abdul Aziz al-Asheikh – did not come out of nowhere. They were a direct response to a speech made by Hezbollah's general secretary, Hassan Nasrallah, in Beirut, not only admitting that his fighters were in Syria but pledging that his men would help Assad – a member of the Shia Alawite sect – to final "victory".
If ever evidence was needed of the escalating sectarian dimension to the growing regional instability in the Middle East – in which the worsening conflict in Syria is playing a large part – it was visible last week.
It is visible in the rubble of Syria's Qusair, emptied now of much of its population, and taken by a joint force of Hezbollah and Assad government forces, as well as in Lebanon's seaside city of Tripoli, the country's second largest, where gun battles between Alawites and Sunni militias are continuing.
It has been visible, too, in Iraq, where lethal tensions, in part inspired by Syria but more largely by the country's own political tensions, have been growing almost by the week, witnessing more than 1,000 deaths in May, the highest monthly toll since 2008....."

A Great Cartoon by Carlos Latuff: BarackObama: the new Big Brother!

Nasrallah's "Resistance" Syria! By Emad Hajjaj

USA: Revelations about government surveillance ‘raise red flags’

Amnesty International

"New revelations about the alleged reach of the US National Security Agency (NSA)’s surveillance efforts raise serious questions about the US authorities’ respect for the right to privacy, Amnesty International said today.

On Thursday The Washington Post in the USA and The Guardian in the UK reported on the NSA’s alleged ongoing efforts to monitor activities of millions of people both inside the USA and overseas.

This includes accessing information on social media and other internet sites, as well as collecting data from mobile phone call records.

The sweeping nature of the records allegedly sought by the government and the systems it has reportedly accessed raises red flags about privacy,” said Frank Jannuzi, Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA........."

The "Heroic" Syrian Air Force on the Attack.....No Not Against Israel, but Against Lebanon! Long Live the "Resistance"!

مقاتلات سورية تطلق صواريخ على شرق لبنان


بيروت- (د ب أ): ذكرت الشرطة اللبنانية أن مقاتلات سورية استهدفت السبت مناطق في شرق لبنان للمرة الثانية في أقل من أسبوع.

وأضافت ان الطائرات اطلقت ستة صواريخ على الاقل على وادي حميد القريب من بلدة عرسال على الحدود اللبنانية خلال مطاردة مقاتلي المعارضة الذين يفرون من بلدة القصير السورية القريبة.

ولم يتم تسجيل وقوع خسائر بشرية.

وسيطرت القوات السورية وحلفاؤها من مقاتلي حزب الله على القصير الأربعاء بعد أسبوعين من القتال فى مواجهة قوات المعارضة التي تسعى للاطاحة بالرئيس السوري بشار الأسد.

وقال المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان الموالي للمعارضة ومقره نيويورك إن الاشتباكات استمرت بين القوات النظامية السورية المدعومة بحزب الله والمعارضة السبت على مشارف القصير.

وتردد ان المعارضة تستخدم القصير كطريق امداد من لبنان.

واثار اعلان حزب الله وقوفه الى جانب القوات السورية فى مواجهة قوات المعارضة المخاوف بشأن تورط لبنان في الصراع السوري الذي بدأ قبل 26 شهرا.

Real News Video: Obama Defends "Big Brother" Powers

Larry Wilkerson: The NSA's illegal gathering of almost all means of communication sacrifices privacy without improving national security  

More at The Real News

Paul Wolfowitz’s Iran Connection

Was the architect of the Iraq War getting advice from an agent of the Islamic Republic?

By Philip Giraldi
World Economic Forum / Flickr
".....And just as Ahmed Chalabi eventually turned out to be something akin to a double agent, feathering his own nest while providing U.S. intelligence to the Iranians, there is also a back story to the Wolfowitz group. The Iraqis were headed by one Dr. Ali A. al-Attar, born in Baghdad in 1963, a 1989 graduate of the American University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine. He subsequently emigrated to the United States and set up a practice in internal medicine in Greenbelt, Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C.......

Dr. Ali A. Al-Attar fled the United States after the indictment to avoid arrest and imprisonment. Late in 2012 he was observed in Beirut, Lebanon conversing with a Hezbollah official. It turns out that al-Attar is only a first generation Iraqi. He was born in Baghdad, but his parents were both from Iran.......

.....Given al-Attar’s national origin and his friends in Lebanon, it might also be intriguing to speculate whether the upper levels of the Bush administration were the gullible victims of a conspiracy orchestrated by Tehran to entice the United States into destroying the one Arab state that truly threatened the regional dominance of the Islamic Republic of Iran. That would be quite a story."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera speaks to Jan Egeland from Human Rights Watch

"Al Jazeera spoke to Jan Egeland, the European Director for Human Rights Watch and a former UN Humanitarian Official."

البرنامج - الحلقه 26 كامله

Now, Confirmed Beyond Doubt.

He, to Paraphrase Maliki of Iraq, Is.....
Shiite First, Lebanese Second and Arab Third.

Inside the U.S. Dirty War in Yemen with Jeremy Scahill, Nasser Al-Awlaki, Sheikh Fareed

Democracy Now!

"From drone strikes to the massacre at Al-Majalah, secret U.S. military actions inside Yemen are exposed in “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” the new documentary film by Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley opening today. Scahill’s book by the same name was published in April. We continue our conversation on Yemen with Scahill and two key Yemenis profiled in the film: Nasser al-Awlaki, who lost his son, cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and 16-year-old grandson to U.S. drone strikes; and Saleh bin Fareed, the Yemeni sheikh and tribal leader who was one of the first people to arrive at the site of the U.S. attack of Al-Majalah that killed 45 civilians in 2009........"

"A Massive Surveillance State": Glenn Greenwald Exposes Massive NSA Program Collecting Calls, Emails

Democracy Now!

"The National Security Agency has obtained access to the central servers of nine major internet companies — including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook. The Guardian and the Washington Post revealed the top secret program, code-named PRISM, after they obtained several slides from a 41-page training presentation for senior intelligence analysts. It explains how PRISM allows them to access emails, documents, audio and video chats, photographs, documents and connection logs. "Hundreds of millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions – in fact billions of people around the world – essentially rely on the internet exclusively to communicate with one another," Greenwald says. "Very few people use landline phones for much of anything. So when you talk about things like online chat, and social media messages, and emails, what you’re really talking about is the full extent of human communication." This comes after Greenwald revealed Wednesday in another story that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers. "They want to make sure that every single time human beings interact with one another … that they can watch it, and they can store it, and they can access it at any time."....."

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - التطورات الميدانية في القنيطرة والقصير

Real News Video: Court Order Reveals Unprecedented Government Surveillance of Verizon Cell Phone Customers

Michael Ratner: Document revealing US spying on Verizon cell phone customers likely leaked by a whistleblower, which government is attempting to suppress through Bradley Manning trial 

More at The Real News

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you consider Iran to be responsible for what is taking place in Syria? 

With over 500 responding so far, 87% said yes.

3rd anniversary of Khaled Saeed ‘s death – He’s ALIVE!

By Carlos Latuff

NSA taps in to user data of Facebook, Apple, Google and others, secret files reveal

• Top secret PRISM program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Facebook and Apple
• Companies deny any knowledge of program in operation since 2007

The Guardian,

"The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program......"

Civil liberties: American freedom on the line

The fact that police have the right to monitor the communications of all its citizens – in secret – is a classic hallmark of a state that fears freedom

The Guardian,

"....Yet that is the situation at the heart of the Guardian's exclusive story this week that America's immense National Security Agency is doing just this on Mr Obama's watch. The revelation that a secret order, issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requires one of the largest telecoms providers in the US to provide a daily diet of millions of US phone records to the FBI, poses Americans with a major civil liberties challenge. Under the terms of the order, everything about every call made during a three month period – excepting only the calls' actual contents – is offered up to the bureau and the NSA on a gargantuan routine basis. It seems improbable that the order revealed yesterday is the only one of its kind. So the assumption has to be that this is the new normality of American state surveillance. The special courts set up to monitor and approve industrial data-harvesting appear to provide little check on the scale of the activity......

But it is American civil liberties that are primarily in the spotlight now. Ever since 9/11, the US has allowed the war on terror to frame a new domestic authoritarianism that is strikingly at odds with America's passionate sense of its own freedom. This week's revelations have stunned millions of Americans whose justified outrage against 9/11 surely never led them to expect such routine and unrestrained surveillance on such a massive scale. US politicians have a poor post-9/11 record of confronting such powers. Even now, it is possible that many will look the other way. But this is an existential challenge to American freedom. That it has been so relentlessly prosecuted by a leader who once promised to stand up against such authority, makes the challenge more pressing, not less."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- بيان المثقفين اللبنانيين الشيعة

"تناقش الحلقة البيان الذي أصدرته مجموعة من المثقفين الشيعة في لبنان وحذرت فيه من المزالق الخطيرة التي يمكن أن تقع فيها الدولة بسبب حالة الانحلال الذي تعيشه البلاد.
تقديم: محمد كريشان
الضيوف: قاسم قصير, راشد صبري حمادة

السياسي والمذهبي.. نحو خطاب مختلف


من يتابع مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي ينتابه الخوف والذعر من حجم الحشد المذهبي (السني-الشيعي تحديدا)، مما يدفعه إلى التساؤل حول المآل الذي يمكن أن يفضي إليه هذا الحشد في المدى القريب والمتوسط وكذلك البعيد.
في الفضاء السني لا تغادرك لحظة مصطلحات "فرس، مجوس، صفوية، رافضة"، إلى غير ذلك من المصطلحات المشابهة، بينما لا تغادرك في الفضاء الآخر مصطلحات "النواصب، الوهابية، التكفيرية، المتطرفين، يالثارات الحسين، لن تسبى زينب مرتين".
هي حالة غير مسبوقة بكل تأكيد، مع أن الحشد المذهبي لم يغادر فضاءات المسلمين في يوم من الأيام، لكن السياسة كان لها دور كبير في تصعيده بين حين وآخر، أعني سلوك الأنظمة والحكام من جهة، وخلافات السياسة وصراعاتها التقليدية من جهة أخرى.
وإذا جئنا نبحث عن السبب الكامن خلف هذا التصعيد المذهبي غير المسبوق، فإن اللائمة تقع في المقام الأول على إيران وحلفائها، دون أن نبرئ أنفسنا تماما، لكن عموم سلوك السنّة لم يكن طائفيا أو مذهبيا في يوم من الأيام، ولا سيما في العقود الماضية، وإن لم يخل تاريخنا من نزاعات المذاهب، بما فيها المذاهب السنية نفسها، وهم (أي السنة) حين أيدوا حزب الله لم يكونوا يجهلون تماما مفردات مذهبه، لكن السلوك الإيراني بعد حرب العراق، وتاليا في لبنان إلى حد ما، والأسوأ بدعم بشار الأسد ضد شعبه
ليس في ما ذكرنا تمييع للقضايا كما يرى البعض، بل هو خدمة لها، لأن إصرارنا على تسييس القضية يكسبنا مزيدا من الأنصار في الطرف الآخر، وفي العالم أجمع، ويجعلنا مقاتلين من أجل الحق والحرية وليس من أجل فرض أديان ومذاهب على الناس، تلك التي تنتقل بالحجة والإقناع بعد أن ولى زمن فرضها بالقوة.
ستنتهي هذه الموجة من الصراع إن عاجلا أم آجلا، وستبقى إيران موجودة، وكذلك الشيعة العرب الذي يعيشون بيننا، وليس لنا إلا التعايش وفق نظام حقوق وواجبات عادل، ووفق جوار متزن مع إيران حين تعود لحجمها الطبيعي وتكف عن العدوان والغطرسة.

أعلم أن كلام المنطق والعقل يغدو غريبا في زمن الحشد، لكنني أرى أنه يكسب أهل السنة بوصفهم الأمة، ولا يضرهم بأي حال، فيما نحن واثقون من أن نهاية هذه الموجة هي إعادة الأمور إلى نصابها، فهذه الأمة ليست طارئة على الهجمات الخارجية، وقد صدتها جميعا وظلت صامدة، وستكون لها جولة قادمة مع آخر وأشرس تلك الهجمات ممثلة في الهجمة الصهيونية، وبالطبع بعد أن تستعيد شعوبنا حريتها وقرارها الذي سرق منها بسطوة قمع الداخل ودعم الخارج

Verizon forced to hand over telephone data – full court ruling

The US government is collecting the phone records of millions of US customers of Verizon under a top secret court order. Read the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order

The Guardian

NSA Whistleblowers: "All U.S. Citizens" Targeted By Surveillance Program, Not Just Verizon Customers

Democracy Now!

"A leaked court order has revealed the Obama administration is conducting a massive domestic surveillance program by collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon customers. The Guardian newspaper published a classified order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court directing Verizon’s Business Network Services to give the National Security Agency electronic data, including all calling records on an "ongoing, daily basis." The order covers each phone number dialed by all customers, along with location and routing data, and with the duration and frequency of the calls, but not the contents of the communications. We’re joined by Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and two former National Security Agency employees turned whistleblowers: Thomas Drake and William Binney. In 2010, the Obama administration charged Drake with violating The Espionage Act after he was accused of leaking classified information to the press about waste and mismanagement at the agency. The charges were later dropped. "Where has the mainstream media been? These are routine orders, nothing new," Drake says. "What’s new is we’re seeing an actual order and people are somehow surprised by it. The fact remains that this program has been in place for quite some time it was actually started shortly after 9/11. The PATRIOT Act was the enabling mechanism that allowed the United States government in secret to acquire subscriber records from any company." Binney, who worked at nearly 40 years at the NSA and resigned shortly after the 9/11 attacks, says: “NSA has been doing all this stuff all along and it’s been all the companies not just one. And I basically looked at that and said if Verizon got one, so did everybody else. Which means that, they’re just continuing the collection of this kind of information of all U.S. citizens.”......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria rebels mull next move after Qusayr fall

Al-Jazeera Video: Spillover of Syrian violence follows capture of Qusayr

Al-Jazeera Video: الجيش الحر يؤكد سيطرته على مدينة القنيطرة

Syria: Attacks on Schools Endanger Students

Children Interrogated, Arrested; Schools Shelled

Human Rights Watch

"(London) – The Syrian government has interrogated students and carried out violent assaults on their protests and military attacks on schools, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.Both government forces and opposition armed groups have used schools as military bases, barracks, detention centers, and sniper posts, turning places of learning into military targets and putting students at risk.

The 33-page report, “Safe No More: Students and Schools under Attack in Syria,” is based on more than 70 interviews, including with 16 students and 11 teachers who fled Syria, primarily from Daraa, Homs, and greater Damascus. The report documents the use of schools for military purposes by both sides. It also describes how teachers and state security agents interrogated and beat students for alleged anti-government activity, and how security forces and shabiha, pro-government militias, assaulted peaceful student demonstrations. In several instances reported to Human Rights Watch, government forces fired on school buildings that were not being used for military purposes.

“Syrian children have had to face things in the horrors of war that no child should have to bear – interrogated, targeted, and attacked,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Schools should be havens, but in a country that once valued schooling, many Syrian children aren’t even getting basic education and are losing out on their future.”......."

Real News Video: Police Attack Union Strikes in Ankara

The day before PM Erdogan returns, police crack down on peaceful workers' demonstrations in solidarity with Gezi protesters  

More at The Real News

Real News Video: Obama Appoints "Humanitarian Interventionists" to Key Positions

Larry Wilkerson: The appointment of Susan Rice as National Security Advisor and nomination of Samantha Power to the UN is a concern as both favor using military power to intervene in other countries affairs  

More at The Real News

Austria to withdraw Golan Heights peacekeepers over Syrian fighting

Austrians account for about 380 of the 1,000-strong UN force monitoring a ceasefire between Syria and Israel,
Smoke from clashes between Syrian rebels and regime forces near Quneitra crossing of Golan Heights
"........"This morning's developments show that a further delay (in pulling out soldiers) is no longer justifiable," the Austrian statement said.
As the only passage between Syria and the Golan Heights, Quneitra crossing has significant symbolic importance to the Syrian regime. The town itself also marks a strategic gateway connecting Damascus to the Syrian south.
Regime forces were reported to have reclaimed the position within hours of the rebel victory, but fighting continued, resulting in three mortars landing in Israeli territory. Israeli officials described the development as "very worrying".

"There are three major issues of concern in Syria: strategic weapons, chemical weapons and the Golan Heights," one senior official explained.

"The [Assad] regime has assured us [of]quiet on the Golan border for 40 years. Now it seems we have someone in control of that border who has their back to us now but may turn around and face us at any point."....."

Guardian Video: Israel shuts down parts of Golan Heights after Syrian rebels seize border crossing

"The Israeli military has shut down the area leading to the old city of Quneitra in Golan Heights after fighting between the Syrian opposition and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces. Ronen Gilboa, who manages fields at a nearby kibbutz, says no crops were harvested on Thursday as a result of the safety order"

Flogging a Dead Horse in Geneva, by Khalil Bendib

A Great Cartoon by Emad Hajjaj

On the 46th Anniversary of the Fall (and Occupation) of the Golan Heights (by Israel).......
Assad Declares "Liberation" of Qusayr! 

Obama Shakeup Puts Syria Action on Front Burner

Rice and Power Both Outspoken Supporters of Intervention in General

"The ouster of Tom Donilon from the position of National Security Adviser (NSA) in favor of Susan Rice portends a much more hawkish voice in the powerful advisory position, and introduces another hawk, Samantha Power, to a position of influence.
The NSA position, under Obama, has been arguably more important than the Secretary of State position, and Rice’s move into it makes her the nation’s top foreign policy planner, and one with a keen eye on military intervention in Syria.
Donilon, by contrast, was focused on the “Asian pivot” and getting the US relatively less militarily involved globally, while staying out of the policy limelight. Rice, by contrast, is likely to be more public and more bellicose on her belief in the US military as a global force for change.
Taking Rice’s place at the UN is Samantha Power, a long-time adviser for Obama who is seen as having driven US involvement in the attack on Libya and the NATO-imposed regime change, arguing that the US had a “moral obligation” to do so. She is seen to be bringing that same position to the Syria situation, again on “humanitarian” grounds."

Egypt's gathering economic gloom leaves millions facing food shortages

As post-revolution Egypt faces its worst financial crisis since the 1930s, food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty rates are rising,

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- التداعيات السياسية لمعركة القصير

حكومات فلسطينية لا تحكم

الهروب من الحقيقة
الحقيقة الماثلة في الضفة الغربية تقول إن الفلسطينيين ليسوا أصحاب قرار، وإن الأميركيين والإسرائيليين هم في النهاية الذين يقررون.
هناك هامش ثانوي ضئيل أمام الفلسطينيين لاتخاذ قرارات، وهو متعلق ببعض العلاقات الداخلية الثانوية والمنافسات والإمعان في الفساد والمناكفات التي تستنزف الطاقات، لكنهم لا يستطيعون القفز عن إرادة الغير فيما يتعلق بمسائل تتعلق بإسرائيل.
فمثلا لا يستطيع الفلسطينيون فتح شارع جديد داخل مدينة إذا اعترضت عليه إسرائيل، ولا يستطيعون حفر بئر ماء داخل مدينة إلا بإذن من إسرائيل.
يسمح الإسرائيليون أحيانا للسلطة بتصرف يقيم لها شأنا أو هيبة، لكن هذا السماح موسمي ولا يشكل ظاهرة.
ولهذا ما هو متوقع الآن على الساحة الفلسطينية مع رئاسة الوزراء الجديدة يتعلق بصورة كبيرة بإعادة ترتيب مراكز القوى داخل السلطة الفلسطينية، بحيث يخسر بعض المتنفذين السابقين بعض مواقعهم وحظوظهم المالية والترفيهية لصالح آخرين ممن كانوا بعيدين عن الحلقة السياسية الأولى.
وسيبقى الخاسرون والرابحون تحت المظلة الخارجية رغم إطلاقهم للشعارات الوطنية الساخنة بين الحين والآخر.

والحقيقة المرة التي يحاول قادة السلطة الفلسطينية الهروب منها تتعلق بأزمة الشرعية. أين هي الشرعية الفلسطينية إذا كان رئيس السلطة يلعب في الوقت الضائع، وكذلك المجلس التشريعي ومجالس منظمة التحرير، ورئاسة الوزراء بدون ثقة المشرع؟

Al-Jazeera Video: Lebanese authorities impose curfew on Syrian refugees

As U.S. Deploys Patriot Missiles and F-16s to Jordan, Could Syrian Conflict Engulf the Middle East?

Democracy Now!

"Pro-government Syrian forces have seized control of the key border town of Qusair, which had been controlled by rebel fighters for the past year. This comes as the United Nations accuses both sides of the Syrian conflict of reaching "new levels of brutality." Since fighting broke out over two years ago in Syria, more than 80,000 people have been killed and another 1.6 million Syrian refugees have fled. We’re joined by longtime foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn of The Independent, who recently returned from Syria where he reported on how the conflict is spreading across the Middle East. Cockburn warns that pending global peace talks will have no effect without a ceasefire on the ground. "The best you could really hope for at this stage is a ceasefire, get the level of violence down, and then later you might have talks of sharing power," Cockburn says. "But you are not going to have that at the moment."...."

War, Arab Style! By Emad Hajjaj


Egypt must overturn jail sentence for NGO workers

Amnesty International
Robert Becker (right), formerly of National Democratic Institute (NDI), was among those on trial.
"Egypt’s authorities must overturn the conviction of 43 people for working at unregistered non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt and receiving illegal foreign funding, Amnesty International said.

The NGO workers were sentenced to between one and five years in prison by the Cairo Criminal Court on Tuesday.

Amnesty International urges the Egyptian authorities to respect freedom of association and enable NGOs to carry out work in the country without hindrance.

“The verdict appears to be intended to deal a deadly blow to civil society in Egypt,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“The Egyptian authorities must act now to protect independent civil society in Egypt and respect their commitment to human rights. This ruling sends a message that the Egyptian authorities continue to view NGOs with suspicion because of their work addressing and exposing human rights violations.”

Five of the 43 NGO workers were sentenced to two years in jail and fined 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$143). ...."

Real News Video: Turkish Deputy PM Apologizes as Mass Protests Continue

Baris Karaagac: Demands for worker's rights, secularism and more democracy fueling protest movement across Turkey  

More at The Real News

Egypt's double standards on sovereignty

Politicians caught plotting against Ethiopia

By Brian Whitaker

"Foreign plots, real or imagined, are the bread and butter of Arab politics. No country guards its sovereignty more jealously than Egypt and even the merest hint of external interference is liable to bring a tough response – hence the jail sentences imposed yesterday on 43 NGO workers accused of receiving funds from abroad.
But the sovereignty principle doesn't necessarily apply when Egypt is the country doing the interfering.
On Monday, President Morsi held a "national dialogue" meeting with senior politicians from various parties to discuss Ethiopia's construction of a dam on the Blue Nile – a move that will affect Egypt's water supplies.
Those attending assumed the discussions were private but Morsi had decided the issue was so important that the discussions should be broadcast live. 
Unfortunately, presidential officials forgot to tell the other politicians who – unaware that others were listening – came up with a succession of ideas for pressurising (or scaring) Ethiopia into changing its mind about the dam.
  • Abul Ela Mady, chairman of the Wasat Party, suggested sending army destroyers to the Bab al-Mandab strait at the entrance to the Red Sea and spreading rumours that Egypt wass about to attack the Ethiopian dam.
  • Yunis Makhyun of the conservative-Islamist Nur Party
    proposed offering support to Ethiopian rebels in order to "put pressure on the Ethiopian government."
  • Ayman Nour of the liberal Ghad Party proposed spreading rumours that Egypt was buying advanced military planes (which he described as an intelligence technique of intimidation). He also suggested Cairo send political, intelligence and military teams to Addis Ababa because "we need to intervene in their domestic affairs".
The presidential office has now apologised for embarrassment caused to the politicians by not telling them about the broadcast. But so far there has been no apology to Ethiopia.
While many Egyptians have been shocked by the incident, some have been amused.
TV talk show host Reem Magued commented: "It's true that we asked for transparency from the government, but not like this ...""

Syrian town of Qusair falls to Hezbollah in breakthrough for Assad

Rebels confirm they have pulled out of strategic town after three-week siege by Lebanese militia

in Beirut,

"....The majority Sunni town also stands incongruously between the Shia villages of northern Lebanon and along the border itself and Syria's Alawite heartland, which spreads from near Homs north-west to the Mediterranean cities of Latakia and Tartous.

Maintaining a contiguous link between the areas is believed to have been a military goal for regime officials in the event that the war leads to a breakdown of borders in the region and a need to consolidate a safe zone for the Alawite and Shia populations.

Buoyed by victory in Qusair, a broader role for Hezbollah is now thought to be on the agenda. Unconfirmed reports in recent days have suggested that the group will now be moved to Aleppo in similarly large numbers, where it will attempt to dislodge rebel groups who have controlled 60% of Syria's largest city for the past 10 months."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Guardian Video: Syrian rebels fight for border town of Qusair

"Footage uploaded to the internet by opposition activists purports to show a recent battle between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in orchards said to be close to the contested town of Qusair near the Lebanese border. "

France says tests from Syria show sarin use

Foreign minister says there is "no doubt" that regime and accomplices used nerve agent, without specifying details.

"France says it is certain that the nerve agent sarin has been used in Syria on several occasions following tests it has carried out on samples recovered from the country.

"These tests show the presence of sarin in various samples in our possession," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the test results had been handed to the United Nations.

The Syrian regime and the opposition have traded accusations that the other side have used chemical weapons during the two-year-long conflict.

"We have no doubt that the gas is being used ... the laboratory tests are clear," he told France 2 television about the blood and hair samples later on Tuesday. "There is no doubt that the regime and its accomplices" are using them, he added.

France has been testing samples of suspected chemical weapon elements for several weeks, including some smuggled out by reporters from the French daily Le Monde.

"It would be unacceptable that those guilty of these crimes remain unpunished," Fabius said.

Use of chemical weapons is illegal under international law.

An exiled chemist who worked on developing Syria's chemical weapons told Al Jazeera last month that the country's stockpile comprises 700 tonnes of sarin agent......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Hezbollah Under Pressure

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian rebels attack regime posts in Qusayr

Al-Jazeera Video: Turkish columnist analyses the riots

American Fascism: Ralph Nader Decries How Big Business Has Taken Control of the U.S. Government

Democracy Now!

"Describing the United States as an "advanced Third World country," longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader calls for a new mass movement to challenge the power corporations have in Washington. "It is not too extreme to call our system of government now 'American Fascism.' It’s the control of government by big business, which Franklin Delano Roosevelt defined in 1938 as fascism," Nader says. "We have the lowest minimum wage in the Western world. We have the greatest amount of consumer debt. We have the highest child poverty, the highest adult poverty, huge underemployment, a crumbling public works — but huge multi-billionaires and hugely profitable corporations. I say to the American people: what’s your breaking point? When are you going to stop making excuses for yourself? When are you going to stop exaggerating these powers when you know you have the power in this country if you organize it?" Nader has just published a new book, "Told You So: The Big Book of Weekly Columns."......"

Kerry's new peace plan sets the Palestinians up to fail

By Jonathan Cook
The National

"Under heavy pressure from the US, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has paid grudging lip service over the past four years to the goal of Palestinian statehood. But his real agenda was always transparent: not statehood, but what he termed "economic peace".

Ordinary Palestinians, in Mr Netanyahu's view, can be pacified with crumbs from the master's table: fewer checkpoints, extra jobs and trading opportunities, and a gradual, if limited, improvement in living standards. All of this buys time for Israel to expand the settlements, cementing its hold over the West Bank and East Jerusalem...........

But the real danger for the Palestinians, as they remember only too well from the 2000 Camp David talks, is that they are being set up as the fall guy. Should they refuse to sign up to the latest version of economic peace, Israel and the US will be only too ready to blame them for their intransigence.

This is win-win for Mr Netanyahu and another moment of disastrous slippage in the diplomatic process for the Palestinians."

US Deploys Patriot Missiles, Warplanes to Jordan

Deployments for a Drill, But 'May Remain'

"Officially, the US military’s deployment of a Patriot missile battery and a number of F-16 warplanes to Jordan, at a time when there is growing concern of the US attacking neighboring Syria, is simply an unrelated “military exercise” planned in advance.

At the same time, officials concede, some or all of the military forces deployed for this drill “may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the government of Jordan,” suggesting this is actually a major escalation of the US military presence in the nation.

The US has been sending growing numbers of ground troops to Jordan over the past few months, primarily to operate a training camp for Syrian rebels. The US is also part of the NATO deployment on Syria’s north border, with Turkey....."

Turkey must end abusive use of force and reveal the extent of injuries

"The number of activists injured across Turkey as a result of police abuse will continue to escalate unless the authorities bring police tactics in line with basic human rights standards, Amnesty International said today.
Demonstrations in cities including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir continued for a third day amid unprecedented levels of police violence against protesters.
The authorities have not confirmed the number of people injured, which is believed to be in the thousands, some of whom remain in hospital in critical state.
“Three days after the start of an unprecedented wave of police repression against protesters, the Turkish authorities have shown little remorse and no indication of a change in police tactics,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“It is essential that the Turkish authorities take action to stop police violence and learn the lessons for policing demonstrations in the future. They must also publish a full list of those injured after the protests, the nature of their injuries and ensure those responsible are held accountable.”........."

Syria: A Stream of Bodies in Aleppo’s River

Human Rights Watch

"(London) - At least 147 people whose bodies were found in the city of Aleppo’s river between January and March, 2013, were probably executed in government-controlled areas.

Human Rights Watch visited the site where the bodies were discovered; interviewed local residents and activists who found the bodies, a forensic expert who examined the bodies, and 18 families of the victims; and reviewed more than 350 photographs and videos of the victims. Based on photographs, video footage, and witness statements, many of the victims bore signs of having been detained and then executed, such as hands tied behind their back, gunshot wounds to their head, and tape across their mouth.

“The bodies floating down Aleppo’s river tell a grisly tale,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. ”It’s hard to see how 147 people could have been executed and their bodies flung in the river in government-controlled territory, as the evidence indicates, without the knowledge of government forces operating in the area.”.........."

Real News Video: 240,000 Turkish Workers Join As Mass Protests Reach More Than 67 Cities

Confederation of unions, stage two day strike in solidarity with protestors, against police brutality and for a more democratic Turkey  

More at The Real News

Ahhhhh...., The "New" Egypt: Egyptian court jails American, German in NGO case

Friends of Egyptian suspects react after hearing the judge's verdict at a court room during a case against foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Cairo June 4, 2013. REUTERS-Asmaa Waguih
"(Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced at least 15 U.S. citizens in absentia to five years in jail on Tuesday and jailed an American and a German for two years in a case against private foreign groups seeking to promote democracy.
Judge Makram Awad also ordered the closure of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) linked to the defendants, including the U.S.-based International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Freedom House.
The defendants were charged with running unlicensed organizations and receiving funds from abroad illegally.
The Americans sentenced in absentia include the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The case caused the worst crisis in decades in ties between the United States and Egypt, recipient of $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid.
At one point Egypt placed travel bans on the suspects, including U.S. citizens who took refuge in the U.S. embassy. They were allowed to leave the country on bail of $330,000 each, money that ultimately came from the U.S. government.
Egypt was run at the time by a military council that assumed power from the deposed Hosni Mubarak.
The jailed American is Robert Becker, a former NDI employee who opted to stay in Egypt and face trial instead of leaving. The German is a woman employee of Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Three others whose nationalities were not immediately clear were also given two years in jail........"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support the decision of the the Gulf countries to take measures against Hizbullah's interests in their countries?

With about 500 responding so far, 88% said yes.

Turkey: a protest worth heeding

From micro issues to large ones, the common denominator is Mr Erdogan's and the AKP's overbearing personality

The Guardian,
There are many ways of reacting to the scenes on Istanbul's streets, if you happen to be the prime minister of Turkey. You can send in the riot police, and fill those streets with tear gas. You can denounce Twitter, and hope that no one observes that your aides tweet too. You can blame the opposition. Or you can ask yourself questions: what makes a localised and relatively peaceful campaign to save an inner city park balloon, in just a few days, into a national protest that has spread to half of Turkey's provinces ? And why is this urban revolt happening to a leader who has won three elections, each time by an increasing majority?
To answer these, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has to look at himself clearly. He has to dissociate himself from his legend. For the tall, swaggering, broad-shouldered man, who is famously proud and prickly, this will be difficult to do. For much of the last decade, his leadership has been legendary. It has seen strong economic expansion accompanied by waves of reforms; the military forced back into its barracks; the opening of EU accession negotiations; the end of torture in prison; a peace deal with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which, if it succeeds, would be historic in itself. When the eurozone faltered in 2008, Mr Erdogan had little difficulty refashioning Turkey as a champion of the Middle East. With the opposition in disarray, there was nothing to stop Mr Erdogan contemplating a new constitution with enhanced powers for the presidency, a role which he, naturally, reserved for himself.
But that was then. What of now? The mushrooming protest has temporarily united a suspiciously wide spectrum of grievance – from those who object to their favourite Gezi park being turned into a shopping mall, to those who object to restrictions on the sale of alcohol, to the decision to name a third bridge over the Bosphorus after an Ottoman ruler responsible for the massacre of thousands of Alevis, the largest religious minority in Turkey, to those who object to Turkey's proxy war in Syria. From micro issues to large ones, the common denominator is Mr Erdogan's and by extension the AKP's overbearing personality. They are no longer seen as the facilitators of individual freedom but big brothers interfering in them.
The jury is still out about the ambitious marriage of forces that the AKP seemed to have achieved – Islamism as a reformist vehicle in a democracy under a secular constitution. But one thing is clear. Democracy is not just about elections and it is not, as Mr Erdogan once said, a means to an end. It is an end in itself. Mr Erdogan has done his job application for president no favours. He should react to this protest with humility and listen to what it is telling him. He has yet to do so."

Syrian disease outbreaks 'inevitable', warns WHO

Crowded insanitary conditions and a broken health system will cause hepatitis, typhoid, cholera or dysentery across the region,
Syrian refugees
Internally displaced Syrians at the Atmeh refugee camp in Idlib province. Photograph: Anonymous/AP

"Outbreaks of hepatitis, typhoid, cholera or dysentery are "inevitable" in Syria and its neighbours this summer while cases of measles and other infections are already growing because of the country's broken health system and increasing numbers of displaced people, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

More than a third of Syria's public hospitals are out of action, in some areas 70% of health workers have fled and 4.25m internally displaced Syrians are living in overcrowded insanitary conditions, it said. Shortages of safe drinking water and disruption to vaccination programmes are increasing the risks.

With thousands of Syrians crossing the borders each day, diseases already prevalent inside Syria are being transmitted to neighbouring countries, according to the WHO's regional office for the eastern Mediterranean.
"All the risk factors that enhance the transmission of communicable diseases in emergencies are present in the current crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries," said Jaouad Mahjour, its director for communicable diseases. "We are anticipating a number of public health risks from water-borne diseases, specifically hepatitis, typhoid, cholera and dysentery. Given the scale of population movement both inside Syria and across borders, together with deteriorating environmental health conditions, outbreaks are inevitable."

Jordan blocks 200 news websites

The Guardian

"The authorities in Jordan have ordered the country's internet services providers to block access to more than 200 websites, reports Al Bawaba.
The decision was condemned by the International Press Institute (IPI) which staged its world congress in the capital, Amman, just two weeks ago.

The International Press Institute (IPI) condemned the blockage of internet news websites and urged Jordanian authorities to guarantee the public's free access to information.
IPI's deputy director, Anthony Mills, said the blockages and restrictions on social media "are an enormous blow to freedom of expression."

Jordan's telecommunications regulator issued the crackdown because it said new websites were not complying with a change to the country's press and publications law.
The law requires all news websites to be legally registered and the editors-in-chief of such sites must be members of the Jordan Press Association.

Among the blocked sites are those for Al-Jazeera, Time Out magazine and AmmanNet, which was founded by an IPI executive board member, Daoud Kuttab
He said: "This is a violation of Jordan's constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, Jordan's commitment to international conventions and a reneging on the promises made by the Jordanian prime minister to Jordanian media.""

So much for the Turkish model?

The Turkish model could still be saved, but only if Erdogan realises that it's about more than just a park.

By Mark LeVine
Unless Erdogan takes action quickly to resolve the situation, it could completely discredit using a "Turkish" model as a template for budding democracies in Tunisia and Egypt
"Just as no one could predict on December 17, 2010, or on January 25, 2011, that protests in Tunis and Cairo would topple governments and change the course of Arab - and world - history, it's still too early to make predictions about what, if any, real political change the present protests in Turkey might produce.
Turkey under Tayyip Erdogan is not Tunis under Ben Ali, Egypt under Mubarak, or Libya under Gaddafi. Yet it is undeniable that, despite the unprecedented level of formal democracy and freedoms that have grown under AKP rule in the past decade, Erdogan has in fact moved towards more conservative - even authoritarian - rule in the past few years, just at the time the Arab uprisings showed the moral and political bankruptcy of such policies.........

However, Erdogan could yet surprise everyone. The Turkish model can still be saved. But only if Erdogan quickly understands that this is about far more than a park or local politics. It's about citizens losing faith in the state to serve and represent their most fundamental interests. It might still be a minority of Turks who support the protests, but if they succeed in forcing the government to become even more regressive and repressive - and Erdogan's speech in which he declared the government would push ahead with the proposed construction despite the protests betrayed precisely the arrogance against which protesters took to the streets - the movement will spread, and even Turks who have heretofore supported the AKP will begin to lose faith in its ability to maintain a civil government.

If that happens, Turkey could in fact have a very hot spring and summer. Regardless of what happens, citizens and rulers across the Arab world will be watching with interest and concern, to see if there is in fact a hope for a religiously grounded liberal body politic, or whether, as with most other types of politics today, power breeds arrogance, violence and corruption regardless of its ideological underpinnings. That might be the most important lesson of the still uncertain Turkish uprising."

طبول الحرب الطائفية تدعونا للانتحار


"أسوأ ما يمكن أن يحدث في العالم العربي أن يتحول صراعه من أجل التقدم إلى صراع مذهبي يكرس التشرذم والتخلف.


أتحدث عن طبول الحرب المذهبية التي تدوي أصداؤها في فضاء المشرق طوال الأسابيع الأخيرة، خصوصا حين أعلن الأمين العام لحزب الله حسن نصر الله في خطابه في 25 مايو/أيار الماضي أن عناصر الحزب تقاتل إلى جانب النظام السوري في بلدة "القصير" التي كانت قوات الجيش الحر قد سيطرت عليها خلال العام الماضي.
وجاءت تصريحاته تلك محملة بثلاث رسائل هي: أن شباب حزب الله المشارك في الحكومة اللبنانية أصبحوا يقاتلون بأعداد كبيرة في الصراع الدائر على الأرض السورية، وأن تلك المشاركة لا تستهدف الدفاع عن قرى حدودية لبنانية ولا عن مقدسات دينية لدى الشيعة وإنما هي بمثابة دفاع عن النظام وإسهام في قتل السوريين المتمردين الذين ثاروا على مظالمه، كذلك دخول عناصر حزب الله إلى سوريا بمثابة اصطفاف من جانب الشيعة، أو القطاع الأكبر منهم، إلى جانب النظام وشبيحته الذين ينتمي أغلبهم إلى الطائفة العلوية.
لماذا لا نقول صراحة إن معركتنا ضد سياسات نرفضها سواء من جانب إيران أو حزب الله أو حكومة المالكي في العراق، كما أننا ضد استبداد نظام الأسد وجرائمه، لكننا لسنا ضد الشيعة أو العلويين. وحتى إذا حاولت بعض الأنظمة استخدام المذهب أو الطائفة في تحقيق أهدافها، فإن الوعي بتلك التفرقة ينبغي أن يظل حاضرا في الأذهان طول الوقت. فنحن نظلم الشيعة العرب مثلا إذا حاسبناهم على حسابات السياسة الإيرانية في العراق أو أوزار حزب الله التي يرتكبها في سوريا. حتى إذا أيد البعض منهم تلك السياسات أو انخرط في الأوزار، فإن الإدانة ينبغي أن تلحق اختياره السياسي وليس انتماءه المذهبي.
قد يرى البعض أن التفرقة بين ما هو سياسي وما هو مذهبي صعبة في حالات كثيرة، لكني أزعم أنها ضرورية ولا بديل عنها، لأن المعارك مع السياسات محدودة الأجل، أما المعارك ضد المذاهب والانتماءات
العقيدية فهي عبثية وبلا نهاية، ناهيك عن أنها وصفة تقليدية ومضمونة المفعول للانتحار

Monday, June 3, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video: Refugees from Qusayr escape to Lebanon

Al-Jazeera Video: Desperate scenes at Qusayr makeshift clinic

Al-Jazeera Video: Mass grave uncovered in Israel's Jaffa

الطفيلي يتهم حزب الله بالاختباء وراء الشيعة والسيدة زينب.. ويسأل لماذا لا ترسل ايران جنودها للقتال في سورية؟


بيروت – “القدس العربي ” ـ من سعد الياس: بقيت العاصمة اللبنانية منشغلة بالتطور غير المسبوق الذي تمثّل في وقوع اشتباكات بين “حزب الله” ومجموعات من المعارضة السورية على الحدود مع البقاع اللبناني والتي أدت إلى سقوط العديد من القتلى وعكست اتساع رقعة “مهمات” الحزب المنخرط عسكرياً في معركة القصير، لتشمل حماية مناطقه داخل الاراضي اللبنانية التي تشهد قصفاً من المعارضة السورية كان يتركّز بدايةً على الهرمل قبل ان يتمدّد إلى قرى في بعلبك ولا سيما النبي شيت وسرعين.

في غضون ذلك، اكد امين عام حزب الله السابق الشيـخ صبحي الطفيلي “ان اختباء حزب الله خلف الشيعة والدفاع عن مقام السيدة زينب هو فقط من اجل الدفاع عن النظام السوري”، قال “ان حزب الله بنفسه غير مقتنع بالكلام عن ان هناك خطراً من جبهة النصرة والسلفيين وهم يدركون انه ليس صحيحا ودفاعهم هو فقط عن النظام”.

وعن دعوة اللبنانيين للقتال في سورية وليس على الأراضي اللبنانية قال الطفيلي “ان هذا يشكل دعوة صريحة وواضحة لقصف وضرب لبنان والدليل هو الصواريخ التي سقطت على الضاحية والتي تسقط في البقاع″، كاشفاً “بأن الحزب تلقى اوامر واضحة من طهران بوجوب الدفاع عن النظام السوري”. وسأل “لماذا لا ترسل ايران جنودها للقتال في سورية بينما يرسلون شباب لبنان والضحايا التي تسقط تكشف عن حجم الكارثة التي تورطنا فيها”.


Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Is Turkey in turmoil?

Al-Jazeera Video: Thousands take part in protests across Turkey

A Turkish Spring? Over 1,000 Injured as Anti-Government Protests Spread Outside of Istanbul

Democracy Now!

"Turkey is seeing its biggest wave of protests against the ruling government in many years. Tens of thousands of people rallied across the country Sunday for a third consecutive day of mass demonstrations. The unrest erupted last week when thousands of people converged at Istanbul’s Taksim Square, a public space reportedly set for demolition. The protests have grown to include grievances against the government on a range of issues, and protesters have managed to remain despite a heavy police crackdown, including tear gas and rubber bullets. The Turkish government says around 1,000 people have been detained at more than 200 protests nationwide. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed the uproar as the work of political opponents and "extremists," vowing to proceed with governments plans to re-make Taksim Square. "I cannot tell you how empowering this is," says Turkish scholar and activist Nazan Ustundag. "This is a country known for [police] brutality and for the Turkish people’s unquestioned loyalty to the state. So it’s very exciting all these different sections of people [are] standing [up for] the last public space which wasn’t given to private interests."......."

Images of Gaza: A few places that caught my eye

By Ali Abunimah

The minaret and entrance of the Great Mosque of Gaza, also known as the al-Omari Mosque.

(Several nice photos posted)

"Before I went to the Gaza Strip for the Palestine Festival of Literature (, I had only ever experienced that part of Palestine through words, images and videos.

I had imagined Gaza City would feel much more intensely crowded and dense, and there are of course areas that feel that way. But my impression of the old city was that it had the laid-back feeling of a smaller coastal town, one whose history extends to ancient times.

Destruction due to Israeli bombing is visible in many places around the city and up and down the Gaza Strip — sometimes a particular building on a street has been taken out leaving a mass of oddly angled concrete slabs and steel reinforcement bars, sometimes a whole city block. It is terrifying to imagine what it must have been like when Israel was wreaking such devastation.

But destruction was not my overwhelming impression of Gaza City and not what I chose to focus on in these images.

Gaza City is all about life: just like every other city in the world, people wake up every day and go to work. Students and children flow into their schools as the early morning quiet is overtaken by the sounds of human voices and cars blowing their horns.

For thousands of years, Gaza, as a coastal city, was a cosmopolitan crossing point — which makes its isolation today as a result of Israel’s internationally-backed siege and sea blockade all the more cruel and poignant....."